June 22, 2009

Vatican Information Service Bulletin

The following, in it's entirety, is a copyrighted transcript of the Vatican Information Service.




VATICAN CITY, 21 JUN 2009 (VIS) - At 8.30 a.m. today the Holy Father departed by plane from Rome's Ciampino airport for the military base of Amendola near Foggia in southern Italy. Due to poor weather he was unable to make the trip by helicopter as had been planned. On arrival he was taken by car to San Giovanni Rotondo where he was welcome by the political, civil and ecclesiastical authorities.

  He then travelled to the shrine of Our Lady of Grace where he was greeted by Fr. Mauro Johri, minister general of the Friars Minor Capuchins, and by other members of that order. After pausing in adoration before the Blessed Sacrament the Pope visited the cell of the convent where Padre Pio of Pietrelcina died, then descended to the crypt where he venerated the mortal remains of the saint.

  At 10.30 a.m. Benedict XVI celebrated Mass in front of the church of St. Pio of Pietrelcina.

  Speaking of St. Pio in his homily, the Pope explained how he "'prolonged' the work of Christ: announcing the Gospel, remitting sins and healing the sick in body and spirit".

  "The greatest 'storms' that threatened him were the attacks of the devil, from which he defended himself with 'the 'armour of God', with 'the shield of faith' and with 'the sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God'. Remaining united to Jesus, his gaze was always fixed on the profundity of the drama of human life and for this he offered himself and his many sufferings, expending his efforts for the cure and relief of the sick, a privileged sign of God's mercy. ... Guiding souls and alleviating suffering: this is how we can summarise the mission of St. Pio of Pietrelcina".

  After then highlighting how St. Pio's legacy to his spiritual children was sanctity, the Holy Father explained how the saint's "main concern, his priestly and paternal solicitude" was "that people should return to God, that they should experience His mercy and, renewed within, rediscover the beauty and joy of being Christian, of living in communion with Jesus, of belonging to His Church and practising the Gospel".

  "In the first place came prayer. ... His days were a living Rosary, a continuous meditation upon, and assimilation of, the mysteries of Christ, in spiritual union with the Virgin Mary. This explains the unique simultaneous presence in him of supernatural gifts and of concrete human qualities. And the culmination of everything came in the celebration of Mass. ... From prayer, as from an endless font, arose charity. The love he carried in his heart and transmitted to others was full of tenderness, ever attentive to the real situations in which individuals and families lived. Towards the sick and suffering he nourished the predilection of the Heart of Christ, and it was from here that the idea for a great social project dedicated to the 'relief of suffering' was born and took shape. We cannot adequately interpret or understand this institution if we separate it from the source that inspired it: evangelical charity animated ... by prayer".

  Yet "the risks of activism and secularisation are ever present", warned Benedict XVI. "Many of you, religious and lay people, are so absorbed by your many obligations in serving pilgrims or the sick in hospital, that you run the risk of neglecting what is truly important: listening to Christ and accomplishing the will of God. When you realise that you are close to running this risk look to Padre Pio, to his example, to his sufferings, and invoke his intercession that he may obtain from the Lord the light and strength you need to continue his mission, imbued with love for God and fraternal charity".



VATICAN CITY, 21 JUN 2009 (VIS) - At the end of today's Mass, celebrated in front of the church of St. Pio of Pietrelcina, Benedict XVI prayed the Angelus, and recalled St. Pio's own love for the Virgin Mary.

  "Love the Virgin and make her loved", said Pope Benedict. "This is what St. Pio would tell people, and more than the words themselves what counted was the exemplary witness of his own profound devotion to the heavenly Mother". The entire life and apostolate of St. Pio of Pietrelcina "took place under the maternal gaze of Mary and with the power of her intercession".

  In a special way the Holy Father then entrusted the Year for Priests - which was inaugurated last Friday, Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus - to the intercession of the Virgin and of St. Pio of Pietrelcina, expressing the hope that it be "a privileged occasion to turn the spotlight on the importance of the mission and saintliness of priests in the service of the Church and of humanity in the third millennium".

  Finally the Holy Father spoke of World Refugee Day, which was celebrated yesterday under the patronage of the United Nations. "Let us also pray today", he said, "for the difficult and sometime dramatic situation of refugees. ... Many are the people who seek refuge in other countries, fleeing from wars, persecution and natural disasters. Receiving them creates no small number of difficulties yet it is nonetheless incumbent upon us. May it be God's will that, with everyone's commitment, the causes of such a sad phenomenon may as far as possible be removed".



VATICAN CITY, 21 JUN 2009 (VIS) - At 4.45 p.m. today Benedict XVI met with patients and medical and administrative staff of the "Casa Sollievo della Sofferenza", a hospital founded by Padre Pio in 1956 that currently has beds for one thousand patients.

  On the subject of sickness the Pope explained how, "by taking many forms and striking in different ways", it "raises disquieting issues: Why do we suffer? Can the experience of pain be considered as positive? Who can free us from suffering and death? These are existential questions which usually remain unanswered in human terms because suffering is an enigma which reason cannot fathom.

  "Suffering is part of the very mystery of the human person", the Holy Father added. "Certainly we must do whatever we can to reduce suffering, ... but to banish it from the world altogether is not in our power. This is simply ... because none of us is capable of eliminating the power of evil, which ... is a constant source of suffering.

  "The only person who can eliminate the power of evil is God. Precisely because Jesus Christ came into the world to reveal to us the divine plan of our salvation, faith helps us penetrate the meaning of all that is human, hence also of suffering. There exists, then, an intimate bond between the Cross of Jesus - symbol of supreme pain and price of our true freedom - and our own suffering, which is transformed and made sublime when lived with an awareness of God's closeness and solidarity".

  The Holy Father went on: "Padre Pio was aware of this profound truth. On the first anniversary of the inauguration of this hospital, he said that 'those who suffer must experience God's love through a judicious acceptance of their own pain, through serene meditation upon their destiny in Him".

  "May the Lord help you to fulfil the project that Padre Pio began", the Pope concluded, "with everyone making a contribution: doctors and scientific researchers, healthcare workers and those who collaborate in the various offices, volunteers and benefactors, Capuchin Friars and other priests. Without forgetting the prayer groups which, alongside the 'Casa del Sollievo', are the outposts of this citadel of charity, greenhouses of faith, hotbeds of love".



VATICAN CITY, 21 JUN 2009 (VIS) - At 5.30 p.m. today, in the church of St. Pio of Pietrelcina, the Holy Father met with priests, religious and young people who had come to San Giovanni Rotondo for his visit.

  Following a brief moment of prayer and adoration in the chapel of the Blessed Sacrament, Benedict XVI pronounced some words to those present. Addressing himself in particular to clergy, he recalled the recently-inaugurated Year for Priests dedicated to St. John Mary Vianney. If the holy Cure of Ars, "in tormented and difficult times, sought in every way to make his parishioners rediscover the meaning and beauty of sacramental penance", the Pope said, "then for the holy Friar of Gargano [St. Pio] the care of souls and the conversion of sinners was a yearning that consumed him until his death.

  "How many people changed their lives thanks to his patient priestly ministry!" he added. "How many long hours did he spend in the confessional! ... The Sacrament of Penance must be further enhanced. Priests must never resign themselves to seeing their confessionals deserted, nor limit themselves to noting the disaffection of the faithful for this extraordinary source of serenity and peace".

  Among the teachings that marked Padre Pio's life, the Pope highlighted "the value and necessity of prayer", which he described as "a fundamental point not only for the spirituality of priests but also for that of all Christians, and even more so for yours, dear religious, who have been chosen to follow Christ more closely by practising the vows of poverty, chastity and obedience".

  He went on: "At times we may feel a certain discouragement in the face of the weakening and even abandonment of the faith which we see in our secularised societies. It is certainly important to find new channels to communicate the evangelical truth to the men and women of our time, but since the essential content of Christian announcement always remains the same, it is necessary to return to its original source, to Jesus Christ, Who 'is the same yesterday and today and forever'".

  Finally Benedict XVI turned to address the many young people present. "I am aware of the problems that surround you ... and risk suffocating the enthusiasm that is typical of your youth", he said. "Among these I would like to make particular mention of the phenomenon of unemployment which dramatically affects many young people in southern Italy. Do not lose spirit!! Be young people of 'great heart'. ... The Church does not abandon you; do not abandon the Church! Your contribution is necessary in order to build living Christian communities and societies that are more just and open to hope".

  After the meeting, the Pope descended to the lower church where he made a private visit and inaugurated an exhibition of mosaics. He then travelled by car to the military base of Amendola where he boarded a plane for Rome. From Ciampino airport he then returned to the Vatican by helicopter where he arrived at 8.15 p.m.



VATICAN CITY, 20 JUN 2009 (VIS) - At 6 p.m. yesterday, Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the Pope inaugurated the year for Priests, which has been called to mark the 150th anniversary of the death of St. John Mary Vianney. Among those attending Vespers in the Vatican Basilica were large numbers of priests and seminarians from Rome.

  Before the celebration began, the Pope prayed in front of the relics of the holy "Cure of Ars", brought to Rome by Bishop Guy Bagnard of Belley-Ars.

  In his homily the Holy Father explained how "the Heart of Jesus expresses the essential core of Christianity: the fact that all the revolutionary novelty of the Gospel was revealed and given to us in Christ: that is, the Love that saves us and causes us, even now, to live in God's eternity".

  "His Divine Heart appeals to our hearts and invites us to emerge from our own selves, to abandon our human security and entrust ourselves to Him and, following His example, to make of ourselves an unreserved gift of love.

  "If it is true that Jesus' call to 'abide in His love' applies to all the baptised", Benedict XVI added, "then on the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, day of the sanctification of the clergy, that call sounds out with even greater force for us as priests, and particularly this evening at the beginning of the Year for Priests".

  The mission of priests is "indispensable for the Church and for the world", said the Pope. It "requires complete faithfulness to Christ and constant union with Him. In other words, it requires us to tend constantly towards sanctity, like St. John Mary Vianney".

  "Allowing oneself to be completely conquered by Christ: this was the aim of St. Paul's entire life, to which we have been dedicating our attention during the Pauline Year that is now drawing to a close; this was also the goal of the entire ministry of the holy 'Cure of Ars', to whom we will particularly address ourselves during the Year for Priests. May this also be the main objective of each one of us".

  In order to be ministers of the Gospel "study is certainly useful, as is careful and permanent pastoral formation, but what is even more necessary is the 'science of love' which can be learned only 'heart to heart' with Christ. It is He, in fact, Who calls us to break the bread of His love in order to remit sins and guide the flock in His name. ... Only in this way will we be able to co-operate effectively in the mysterious 'plan of the Father' which consists in 'making Christ the heart of the world'. This plan is achieved in history as, little by little, Jesus becomes the Heart of human hearts, beginning with those called to be closest to him: that is, priests".

  "Even our shortcomings, our limitations and weaknesses must lead us back to the heart of Jesus", said Pope Benedict. "If it is true that sinners, by contemplating His Heart, must learn the necessary 'suffering of sins' that leads them back to the Father, this holds even truer for ministers in holy orders. In this context, how can we forget that nothing makes the Church, Body of Christ, suffer so much as this sins of her pastors, above all of those who become 'stealers of sheep', either by misleading them into a private doctrine or binding them with bonds of sin and death? Dear priests, the call to conversion and the recourse to Divine Mercy apply to us too. We too, with heartfelt humility, must ask the Heart of Jesus to preserve us from the terrible risk of harming the very people whom we are required to save".

  The Holy Father invited his audience to cultivate the same feelings for "the dignity of priests" as those felt by the "Cure of Ars", in order to "accomplish our mission with generosity and dedication, and to maintain an authentic 'fear of God' in our hearts: the fear that, by our negligence or sin, we deprive the souls entrusted to us from such goodness, or that we may - God forbid! - do damage to them.

  "The Church", the Pope added, concluding his homily, "needs holy priests, ministers who help the faithful experience the merciful love of the Lord and who are themselves convinced witnesses of that love".

  The ceremony concluded with adoration and Eucharistic blessing.



VATICAN CITY, 20 JUN 2009 (VIS) - Holy See Press Office Director Fr. Federico Lombardi S.J. released the following declaration late yesterday evening:

  "On the subject of certain news items carried by press agencies concerning the cause of beatification of Pius XII, the director of the Holy See Press Office would like to reiterate that the signing of decrees concerning causes of beatification is the exclusive prerogative of the Pope, who must be left completely free in his evaluations and decisions.

  "If the Pope believes that study and reflection upon the cause of Pius XII are to be further prolonged, his position must be respected without unjustified and inappropriate interventions".



VATICAN CITY, 20 JUN 2009 (VIS) - This morning, the Holy Father received members of the council of the Alcide De Gasperi Foundation, led by De Gasperi's daughter Maria Romana, and by Senator Giulio Andreotti who was a close collaborator of the Italian statesman for many years.

  In his remarks the Pope described Alcide De Gasperi (1881-1954) as having been "formed in the school of the Gospel, ... capable of translating the faith he professed into concrete and coherent acts. ... Spirituality and politics were so well integrated in him that, if we wish to understand fully this respected man of government, we must not limit ourselves to considering the political results he achieved but also bear in mind his delicate religious sensibility and the solid faith which constantly animated his thoughts and actions".

  Benedict XVI highlighted how De Gasperi dedicated "much time to prayer and to his relationship with God, when possible beginning each day by attending Mass. Indeed, the most chaotic and dramatic moments marked the pinnacles of his spirituality".

  The Pope also highlighted De Gasperi's "unquestionable faithfulness to human and Christian vales, and the serene moral conscience that guided him in his political decisions. ... Of course, at times there were difficulties, perhaps even misunderstandings, with the ecclesiastical world, but De Gasperi never wavered in his adherence to the Church, ... which was complete and sincere".

  "Docile and obedient to the Church, he remained independent and responsible in his political choices, without using the Church for political aims and without making compromises with his own upright conscience".

  The Holy Father concluded by asking God "that the memory of De Gasperi's experience of government and his Christian witness be an encouragement and stimulus for the people who govern Italy and other countries today, especially for those who draw inspiration from the Gospel".



VATICAN CITY, 20 JUN 2009 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:

 - Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops.

 - Cardinal Ivan Dias, prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples.



VATICAN CITY, 20 JUN 2009 (VIS) - The Holy Father:

 - Appointed Bishop Gilberto Gomez Gonzalez, auxiliary of Abancay, Peru, as bishop of the same diocese (area 12,950, population 344,510, Catholics 329,110, priests 52, religious 133). He succeeds Bishop Isidro Sala Ribera, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.

 - Appointed Fr. Alex Thomas Kaliyanil S.V.D. regional superior of the Society of the Divine Word in Zimbabwe, as archbishop of Bulawayo (area 66,956, population 1,858,000, Catholics 115,793, priests 87, permanent deacons 21, religious 203), Zimbabwe. The archbishop-elect was born in Vallamchira, India in 1960 and ordained a priest in 1988.

 - Appointed as members of the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue: Bishop Augustine Shao C.S.Sp. of Zanzibar, Tanzania; Archbishop Patrick Altham Kelly of Liverpool, England, and Bishop Johannes Maria Trilaksyanta Pujasumarta of Bandung, Indonesia.

 - Appointed Cardinal Christoph Schonborn O.P., archbishop of Vienna, Austria, as his special envoy to celebrations marking the millennium of the diocese of Pecs, Hungary, due to take place on 23 August.

 - Appointed Msgr. Damiano Marzotto Caotorta, bureau chief of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, as under secretary of the same congregation.

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